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Electric rates going up in Maui County

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The Public Utilities Commission granted Maui Electric Company a 3.3 percent interim rate increase which will take effect Sunday.

This means that residents on Maui could pay $5.43 more per month, bringing their monthly bill to $186.02. For Molokai residents, their monthly bills could climb as much as $5.21 per month increase, bringing a total bill to $187.67. For Lanai residents this translate as much a  $5.65 per month increase, or $196.87 each month.

The increase reflects a previously announced settlement between Maui Electric and the State Division of Consumer Advocacy. The PUC will continue to review details of the request and later issue a final decision. If, at that time, a lower final increase is approved, the difference would be refunded to customers with interest. 

The rate increase approved yesterday will help pay for more than $122 million in new capital projects to improve service reliability, Maui Electric said in a written statement. Among the major projects are: 

>>Replacing and upgrading the power plant control systems for Maalaea Generating Units M17 and M19. 

>> Building new or expanding substations to support past and future growth and improve service. 

>>Replacing and upgrading underground lines to improve service reliability. 

>>Investing in transformers, poles, meters and other facilities to maintain reliable service and fulfill new service requests from customers. 

The increase will also cover costs for more frequent inspections of utility poles and lines and increased tree trimming around power lines for greater reliability, and more  extensive servicing of generating units to maintain efficiency.   

Maui originally submitted its rate increase application in September 2009 and had requested $28.2 million, or 9.7 percent. The PUC held public hearings on the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai on the proposed increase in December 2009.  

The last general rate increase was 3.7 percent in December 2007.

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